Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Study Abroad

My great-grandfather Lockwood promised his future wife, Hattie, that they would settle down and never move.  He broke that promise on a number of occasions, moving Hattie and their children a number of times. His traveling gene seemed to skip a few generations with both my grandfather and father. I was born in the same hospital as my father and attended the same schools. I don't think anyone in the family ever expected that I would be the one hit so hard with the traveling gene.

As a kid, I found adventure going on bidding trips with my dad. My dad owned a construction company and would bid on road jobs throughout the state. It didn't matter where we were going, I always thought exploring those little towns throughout Wyoming was the coolest thing.

When I started school and learned to read, an entire world opened up to me through books. I blazed my way through the fiction section in our small school library and then began to tackle the non-fiction section. My endless curiosity about history and new places drove my book choices. Books about the Aztecs would fire my imagination, giving me an intense desire to go to Mexico to see the ruins. Reading Greek myths, and then later, studying Greek, for a very brief time when I realized that while I loved Greek history, literature, and mythology, the language did not love me, nevertheless fueled the deepest desire to go to Greece, explore the islands and discover what drove those people to such heights in literature, philosophy, and culture.

In high school, in fulfilling an assignment for a class, I wrote a list of several places I wanted to go. I honestly never thought my dreams would be fulfilled. I grew up in a small town in Wyoming where most of the people I knew were homebodies. Travel, while initially exciting, was viewed with a bit of mistrust. People in town would survey the gorgeous mountains (and no doubt about it, that particular area is one of the most beautiful places on earth) and ask how I could ever dream of leaving it. But I kept dreaming, because the thought of being stuck in my home town was scarier than venturing out in the world.

In college, I saw advertisements for study abroad programs that interested me, but money was a factor. I usually went home during summers to earn money to pay for tuition. And my parents weren't so keen on me going. Then I fell head over heels in love with this great guy who asked me to marry him. When we married, I put away my dreams, thinking that when we retired, we would get a chance to travel.

Oh how wrong I was. After 3 years of marriage, my husband presented me with the most interesting opportunity of my life, other than marriage and a family. "What would you think," he said, "if I were to get my PhD in Sweden?" I didn't need to think. The idea sounded AMAZING. My husband had served his mission there and had been dying for a chance to go back. Of course, there were a number of logistical problems to solve, not  the least of which were our two little boys. We sold everything we could, boxed a few treasures, packed up what we couldn't live without and moved to Sweden.

I felt like our time in Sweden was an intense study abroad period. I didn't get to sit in classes with renowned professors feeding me knowledge or exploring great works of art or countries under the tutelage of an expert. My language courses were at night and during the day I tried to sneak in practice and homework in between cleaning a house, entertaining toddlers, and naps. And my explorations pushed me to research and ask questions and find out for myself about the country. I learned more about the culture through trial and error. I grew to love Sweden as my home.

During our 5 1/2 years in Sweden, we were able to travel to different European countries, where I thought I would die from happiness. I was able to explore cathedrals, beautiful countryside, visit the greatest museums in the world, and see places I had read about.

It was a lot of sadness that our time in Sweden ended and we moved back to the U.S. Our four years in New York were characterized by a lot of challenges, and not as much exploration as I would have liked. (But I have a lot to look forward to!) We were still able to explore some great places on the East Coast. We truly didn't expect that we would get another opportunity to live abroad again.

Then we had a chance to move to Saudi Arabia for an international assignment through the company my husband works for. So we took it and here we are. I love it. I love the chance to learn about a new culture and see places tourists don't get to see. In fact, you can't really come to Saudi Arabia as a tourist, so this is special. So while I never got to go on a Study Abroad course with my university, I feel like I have had the most amazing study abroad experiences. Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope you experience some of the excitement and interest that I feel in my life on my study abroad course.



2 comments:

  1. I loved this post! I appreciate your point of view and love to hear about your life. I think it is true that you are having a great semester abroad experience. I am happy that a dream came true for you in your life!

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  2. just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all...


    Study Abroad

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